Classical Music, Opera, Theatre, Photography, Art, Books, Travel, Food & Drink – the View from Western New England

Archive for April, 2009

Welcome to the new Berkshire Review for the Arts

Welcome to the new Berkshire Review for the Arts, which will be easier and more fun to browse, and, on our end, considerably streamlined. You’ll now be able to comment on almost every posting, and there is no longer any reason for the Berkshire Artsblog. Its entries have been absorbed into the relevant categories, above […]

The Best Minds of our Generation…Patti Smith, Philip Glass, and Allen Ginsberg at the City Winery

On Palm Sunday at the City Winery, it was a great honor to see two great artists celebrate the life of their dear mutual friend, the poet and activist, Allen Ginsberg. This night commemorated the twelfth anniversary of his passing, and Patti Smith and Philip Glass held the audience in the palm of their hands […]

Bellini, La Sonnambula at the Met with Dessay, Flórez, and Pertusi, dir. Zimmerman

An immense success in its first production in 1831 as well as in its first performances at the Met (1883), La Sonnambula’s popularity waned—at the Met at least—after the First World War. In later revivals, it was presented as a vehicle for sopranos who could fully exploit the florid ornament of Bellini’s writing for its heroine, Amina. Twenty-eight years elapsed between Lily Pons’ last performance of the role in 1935 and Joan Sutherland’s first appearance in it in 1963, which was hailed as the revival of the lost art of bel canto. It held its own at the Met as long as Sutherland performed it, that is, until 1969. Three years later Renata Scotto brought a more dramatic approach to Amina, but her performances of the role never went beyond the 1972 season. Only this year, 37 years later, has the opera been revived, with Natalie Dessay, who enters the role with her own mélange of satisfying musicality, dramatic energy, and charismatic charm, in an unconventional production by Mary Zimmerman, which has attracted a storm of vociferous criticism.

Emmanuel Music – Bach, St. Matthew Passion; John Harbison, conductor; April 5, 2009; Schütz, St. Matthew Passion; April 10, 2009

Bach’s St. Matthew Passion functions as religious music, presenting the trial and crucifixion of Christ, setting the words of Matthew’s Gospel and adding to this choruses and solos where devout souls meditate upon one moment in the sequence of events or upon the larger meaning of it all. A Christian can confront this work and […]

Summer Theatre Festivals – A Guide

Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown Berkshire Theatre Festival, Stockbridge   Barrington Stage Company, Great Barrington   Shakespeare & Company, Lenox   Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, Weston, Vermont   Dorset Theatre Festival, Dorset, Vermont   Oldcastle Theatre Company, Bennington, Vermont   Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theater, Wellfleet   Shakespeare in the Park, New York   Lincoln Center Festival […]

An Oresteia, after Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, trans. Anne Carson

Committing to four hours of classical Greek tragedy has the potential to turn into a tedious, bloated, inscrutable nightmare, but Anne Carson’s breezy, colloquial adaptations of three ancient plays are wonders of intelligibility. This trilogy, presented by the Classic Stage Company either in two evenings or as one marathon-length afternoon, isn’t the set of Aeschylus plays commonly referred to as The Oresteia, which premiered in Athens in 458 BC. Instead, it’s a compendium of three plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides that chart the travails of the cursed house of Atreus in three vastly different styles, ranging from sanctimonious earnestness to campy self-parody.

Mozart/Da Ponte, Le Nozze di Figaro, the debut of the Capital Opera Company, Albany

Last August, tipped off by friends of the always-remarkable Richard Giarusso, I ventured up to Cambridge, New York, to hear him conduct Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte at Hubbard Hall, a nineteenth-century “opera house,” which has seen many vicissitudes, but is now flourishing as a community arts and performance center, thanks to the enthusiasm of its local supporters. It was also the inauguration of a new institution, the Hubbard Hall Opera Company, the brainchild of Alexina Jones. The performance was a delight because of the quality of the young, solidly trained voices, the imaginative use of the hall as a three-dimensional performance space, and the lively acting of an intelligently directed cast, who wanted nothing better than to bring Da Ponte’s human comedy and Mozart’s music to life.

Blue, Edinburgh

Lucas Miller reviews this Edinburgh restaurant, ideally positioned with close proximity to that city’s most important venues for theatre and film.